A musher and dog team take the Chena River out of Fairbanks
The Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race started on Saturday morning. Fifteen teams left Fairbanks, with the goal of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in 9 days, give or take.
It was a rather chilly morning to be hanging out on the Chena River to cheer the teams on their way, but several hundred people turned out to do just that. It was -25F when I left the cabin, and it must have been -30 down on the river ice. Everyone, including the dogs, were bundled up.
The 1000 mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse first started in 1984. A 1983 bull-session in the Bull’s Eye Saloon in Fairbanks, led to the race’s creation. Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks that first year. The winner, Sonny Linder, made it to Whitehorse in just over 12 days.
The Quest follows the historic gold rush routes between the Yukon and Alaska’s Interior, traveling frozen rivers and crossing four mountain ranges. Dawson City, YT is the half-way point. In even years, the race starts in Fairbanks, and in odd years the race starts in Whitehorse.
There are ten checkpoints and four dog drops, where dogs can be dropped off, but not replaced. Sleds can not be replaced without a penalty. The record run happened in 2010, when Hans Gatt finished in 9 days, 26 minutes. The slowest time happened in 1988, when Ty Halvorson completed the race in 20 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.
Frozen Four Championship:
Key Bank Center; Buffalo, NY
The French Connection
UMass vs UMD in the 2018-19 Title Game.
The Bulldogs and Minutemen during warmups
For all the excitement and anticipation, the championship game did not meet the standards of either of the two semi-final games.
The opening face-off
Duluth’s Parker Mackay scored on a PPG less than 4 minutes into the first period, and never looked back. UMass looked tentative at first, and that look never really left them. The Bulldogs clogged the lanes, blocked shots, took out bodies and basically caused havoc to the fast paced offense of Massachusetts.
UMD’s Mikey Anderson, on assists by Mackay and Justin Richards, put the puck in the net in period two. Then Jackson Cates scored in the third, and that was far more than Hunter Shepard would need in the Bulldog net.
Minnesota-Duluth goes back to back, winning their second national title in a row, and third overall
The Bulldogs would skate away with a 3-0 shutout win. Parker Mackay would win the tournament’s most valuable player award. No drama in this one.
The Frozen Four returned to Buffalo for the first time since 2003, when Minnesota beat New Hampshire for the title.
The Frozen Foursome has grown to a Frozen Six, but that has no ring to it, so I’m sticking with Frozen Foursome+. At any rate, we were excited to see the NCAA Championship tournament return to the hockey town in Western New York.
Alaska-Fairbanks jersey, American International, and the Pitch-Forks
The Duluth Bulldogs had their hands full with the Providence Friars on Thursday afternoon, in the first game. The game was scoreless after one period of play. Then Duluth’s Justin Richards put the Bulldogs in the lead in period two. But Josh Wilkins of the Friars quickly tied things up.
Opening puck drop; UMD-PC
Billy Exell of the Bulldogs would get the game winning goal at the halfway mark of the final period. Duluth would add two empty net goals, for a 4-1 win. It will be the third year in a row that Minnesota-Duluth will appear in the title game.
Opening Face-off Denver vs UMass
In the late semi-final game, Denver University played the University of Massachusetts. It was the first ever visit for UMass to the Frozen Four, and Denver’s 17th appearance.
This would prove to be an interesting matchup, with a lot of emotional swings. Denver took the lead on a power play goal by Colin Staub, at the end of a 5 minute major penalty on UMass. Denver then took their own 5 minute major, right after a minor penalty, giving UMass a 5 on 3 advantage. The Minutemen would go on to score three goals before the major penalty was over. The third goal was just a beautiful shot by John Leonard. UMass would go into the first intermission up 3-1.
After the rush of the first period, there was no scoring at all in period two. It wasn’t until the halfway mark of the third frame, when the Pioneers’ Cole Guttman put the puck past the UMass goalie Filip Lindberg. Suddenly the momentum was with DU. Guttman again came up big with the tying goal, with just under 4 minutes to play.
We were on to overtime. The Frozen Foursome+ compared notes, and placed their bets.
The play in OT was back & forth. Both teams had chances to walk away with a win. Momentum came and went. The pace picked up. Tensions rose. The Curator’s stomach was in knots.
Then at the 15:18 mark, Marc Del Gaizo, rifled a shot on net, and the puck flew past DU’s Filip Larsson. UMass had a 4-3 OT victory over Denver, and would move on to face Duluth in the title game. UMass has some sharp-shooters on that team. They are fast, and play some great hockey as a unit. UMD will be facing a tough challenge, but UMD has been here before.
Should be a phenomenal final. I can’t wait for puck drop.
Final score 4-3 UMass. An empty arena, but the UMass band is still up in the rafters playing.
Courtesy of University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey
NCAA D-1 hockey returns to the ice this weekend for some programs. Minnesota returns to Mariucci Arena to take on Ferris State for a two game series. Alaska will not return to the Carlson Center until after the New Year.
The University of Minnesota did announce the return of the Mariucci Classic for 2019. The post-Christmas tournament, hosted by the Minnesota Golden Gophers, was first held in 1991, but has been on a two year hiatus. The 2019, four team field, will consist of only schools from within Minnesota, for the first time ever. It will also be the first time St Cloud State University and Minnesota State University have competed in The Classic. It will be the third appearance for Bemidji State University.
The Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry is the most played in FBS football. They first met in Minneapolis in 1890, with Minnesota winning 63-0.
On Saturday, the two teams met up for the 128th time. On the line, just like every year since 1948, was Paul Bunyan’s Axe. With a solid win at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, The Axe returns to the University of Minnesota campus for the first time since 2003.
The overall record between the two teams in the border rivalry is 60-60-8.
Golden Gopher Football players with The Axe; Photo credit:(AP/Andy Manis)
The Golden Gopher baseball team won all three games at the Minneapolis NCAA Regional over the weekend. Friday night, Minnesota routed Canisius 10-1. UCLA had won earlier in the day against Gonzaga.
Outfield seats at Siebert
Friday night saw a record crowd at the new Siebert Field. Coach John Anderson led the effort to rebuild and keep the aging ballpark on campus, with current Minnesota Twins manager, former Gopher, and MLB Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor the head of fundraising. No public funds were used in the construction. As a student at Minnesota, I spent many a sunny afternoon at the Old Siebert Field, just hanging out, doing a little homework between innings, and enjoying some great college baseball.
Minnesota Coach John Anderson
On Saturday, Gonzaga knocked Canisius out of the tournament, in a rain delayed game. Minnesota took on UCLA in the nightcap, and lightning early in the contest, delayed that game even further. A pitchers’ duel took place after the lightning, with UCLA taking a one run lead late into the game. Due to a freak coin flip, Minnesota was the visitor in their own ballpark. In the top of the eighth, Gopher All-American shortstop, Terrin Vavra, led off with a double. Eli Wilson then followed with a single, bringing Vavra in for the tying run.
The game was tied 2-2 at the end of nine, when Vavra again led off the 10th with a single. He would score the winning run on a double by Micah Coffey. Minnesota gets the after-midnight win 3-2.
Golden Gopher baseball
UCLA would beat Gonzaga for a second time, for the right to face Minnesota in Sunday night’s championship game. This game would not be a pitchers’ duel. In fact, the first 1-2-3 inning did not come until the fourth, for either team. Neither starter made it out of the third inning.
Jordan Kozicky #7 tracking down a pop up
Reliever Jackson Rose came in for Minnesota, throwing four relief innings, giving up only one run. Toby Hanson hit a three run homer for Minnesota, and Alex Boxwell hit a two run homer, and drove in four runs, as Minnesota out clubbed UCLA 13-8 in front of another record crowd.
Minnesota now travels to Corvallis, OR to play the Beavers of Oregon State University in a best of three Super Regional. The winner of that series travels to Omaha for the College World Series.
Minnesota Baseball celebrates their B1G title; Photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik
Congrats to the University of Minnesota Gopher baseball team who won the B1G Tournament over the weekend. The Gophers also won the regular season title this year.
Gopher baseball will now host one of the NCAA Regionals at Siebert Field. Minnesota will face Canisius at 7pm on Friday. UCLA will take on Gonzaga in the other game. The regional is double elimination, and the winner moves on to a Super-Regional.
Minnesota Coach John Anderson getting his Gatorade shower in Omaha; Photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik
Top seeded Minnesota beat second seeded Purdue 6-4 in Omaha for the Big Ten Championship. The victory gave the Golden Gophers their 10th tournament title, breaking a tie between Michigan and Ohio State for the most in conference history.
The Frozen Four, college hockey’s national championship, returned to Saint Paul for the first time since 2011. The tournament featured the University of Minnesota-Duluth against The Big Ten, as three B1G teams made the finals this year. Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan joined Duluth at The X.
UMD and OSU in warmups
Game one on Thursday saw The Duluth Bulldogs face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Dawgs came out fast, scoring two goals in the first 3:04. Defenseman Louie Roehl opened the scoring. Roehl never scored a goal in high school.
Ohio State was never really in the game, which had to frustrate the Buckeyes, as they defeated the reigning national champs, Denver, in their regional. After putting two in the net, Duluth went to a defensive game plan, and really shut OSU down.
Opening puck drop, UMD v OSU
OSU eventually scored a PPG at the 9:37 mark of the third period, but that was the only goal the Buckeyes put behind Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard. Duluth would move on to the title game with a 2-1 win.
Warm ups between Michigan and Notre Dame
In game two we saw Michigan take on the Irish of Notre Dame. Michigan was trying for its 10th National Championship in hockey, and The Irish were trying for their first.
Michigan drew first blood, with a goal by Tony Calderone in the first period. The Wolverines added to their lead early in period two, on a freak bounce of a goal, as the puck ricocheted off a Notre Dame defenseman, and into the Irish net. Notre Dame would tie the game at 2 later in the period.
1:35 into period three, the Irish went ahead 3-2 on a nice goal by Cal Burke. Michigan, once again tied things up at 3, late in regulation. It looked like the late game was going into overtime. On what looked to be a harmless drive towards the Michigan net, Cam Morrison made a great effort to center the puck to Jake Evans. Evans was able to get enough on the shot, to slide the puck under Wolverine goaltender Hayden Lavigne with 5.7 seconds left in the game. It was Evans’ second goal of the game, and it sent Notre Dame into the final against Duluth.